Manchester’s best sad sack producer/DJ Andy Stott has released a new song, ‘Hard to Tell’, which will be featured on his ninth album, Never the Right Time.
The song is another track featuring long-time collaborator Alison Skidmore, the vocalist who is also featured on the title track to 2012’s Luxury Problems Stott’s current most-streamed song ‘Faith in Strangers’, and a whole slew of Stott’s other work. Their partnership yields beautiful, yet oftentimes dreary and downcast results. Dreary and downcast are certainly the words I would use to characterise ‘Hard to Tell’.
‘Hard to Tell’ doesn’t exist without a foundation, however. Ever since 2008’s Unknown Exception, Stott has been trending away from his initial techno/dub/house mix and moved slowly towards more open, ambient sounds. 2019’s It Should Be Us takes this trend to its logical conclusion, with trippy instrumentals that contain only the faintest hint of Stott’s highly danceable past work. Sonic textures take precedence over hooks, but ‘Hard to Tell’ brings Skidmore back into the fold in order to bring some lightness, and weight, to the proceedings.
If you are the type of person who responds to depressive episodes by cranking up the gloomy music, pulling the shades, and escaping into your own downward spiral, then boy oh boy is ‘Hard to Tell’ the song for you. Also, if you happen to like good ambient pop, minimalist drama, and/or aching declarations of giving into the void, you’ll find a lot to like in most of Stott’s discography.
Visually, ‘Hard to Tell’ also gets a vertigo-inducing video featuring a man who is most assuredly not Andy Stott, but rather dancer Tylor Deyn (a man who unfathomably has both my name and my brother’s name combined as his name, only spelt differently) balancing precariously on his head as the song, and camera, swirls around him.
Check out the gravity-defying video for ‘Hard to Tell’ down below. Never The Right Time is due for release April 16th.